Employee morale is a big part of how much you get out of your workers, and a big part of employee morale is how well individuals get along with each other. Face it, we’re a tribal species: we function better when we are friends with our workmates. We call in sick less often, we concentrate on our work better, and we feel healthier. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do with your office space to encourage your employee camaraderie.

Create Comfortable Communal Areas

The problem with many communal areas in workplaces is that they are afterthoughts, thrown together when somebody remembers that employees will want someplace to eat their federally mandated lunch. The result is that areas such as the break room are cold, sterile, and uncomfortable. There is no reason for this, and, frankly, it is counterproductive. The break room should have cozy sofas in arrangements that encourage employee morale with conversations, congratulatory medals on the walls, and board games on the tables. 

If there is another area where your employees tend to congregate, there isn’t any reason to not set up soft chairs and a coffee maker there. Plenty of creative ideas will flow from the random gathering of people that work for you and coffee – it’s what the original coffee shops in London were for, after all. Indoor plants on the windowsills in the halls and mellow paint on the walls will help to put people in the right mood too.

Balance Privacy With Community

This may seem contradictory, but people like to have a little space to hang their family pictures, focus on their work, and get away from overbearing colleagues. The reduction in distractions let office employees get those little jobs done that bother a person for as long as they sit on a person’s desk, and this, in turn, lets your employees feel less stressed. The reduction in stress makes them friendlier to their co-workers. This is especially true of people who are naturally introverts.

Plus, you sometimes can’t avoid hiring people who need to work on their soft skills, and letting your employees choose when to deal with their more high-strung workmates makes dealing with them easier. When your employees deal with each other while in positive frames of mind, they don’t get into productivity-sapping pointless arguments. To improve employee morale, you can provide this privacy with cubbies and cubicles with a traditional layout, or you can divvy up a room with pretty paper screens. It never hurts to give people a little space.

Add Plants

Plants and flowers have long been associated with happy events: weddings are festooned with them, people give bunches of them to loved ones on Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, and boutonnieres are pinned on at proms. There turns out to be a scientifically valid reason for their inclusion. An article in Sage Pub summarized 3 studies about the effects of flowers on mood, and all three found that they enhanced positive moods and encouraged friendly behavior. In one study, people of both sexes were handed flowers in elevators and were observed to exhibit more prosocial, friendly behaviors afterward than when they were handed other items (presumably nice things, though the article didn’t go into detail.) In the other 2 studies, flowers were found to elicit true smiles and happy moods. It’s fair to assume that having flowers around the office will encourage your employees to be more relaxed and friendly around each other, thus making it more likely that your employees will be friends with each other. 

When you are considering your office design, don’t forget to contact specialists such as Cityscapes to bring in the best plants for your office. Your employees will thank you both for the happy work atmosphere and the pretty flowers, boosting employee morale.